Partakers of and Partners with the Vine

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Sunday 10/01/23

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Partakers of and Partners with the Vine

Today we’re starting back in 1 Corinthians chapter one where we left off last week. 

A couple of years ago, I felt very strongly by the Lord and trust that He gave me the verse that said, “Those who maintain the hope of the soon return of the Lord Jesus Christ will purify themselves even as He is pure.”

So we spent a lot of time, this past year, looking at what the New Testament has to say about the return of the Lord. We found that there’s actually a lot that the New Testament says about it. And of course, the purpose of it was purification. 

Again that passage says that those who maintain this hope within them, purify themselves. 

It doesn’t say that if you will maintain this hope AND purify yourself. It says that the purification will automatically happen. The purification will take care of itself if we will just maintain this one thing – a confident favorable expectation of His return. 

So it was that we spent a lot of time with that topic. As a result we found that part of the  purification work is accomplished in seeking and seeing Him.

Thus we kinda coined the following phrase, 

“You can only become like the Jesus that you know” or “You can only become like the Jesus that you see”

So I suppose it is no surprise that this year the Lord has directed our studies towards coming to know Jesus relationally. From there, over the course of the past 10 months we’ve come quite a long way! 

Most recently, of course, we have covered the parable of the heart soils and then the analogy Jesus offered of us being branches in Him – He being our vine.

So I believe if we were to take a step back and look at the things we’ve learned, we’ve arrived at a rather good picture of where we are in Christ

So what we’re beginning to look at is what can we do, on purpose to see Jesus in more clarity. What tools have been given us by God to facilitate us knowing Jesus and thus, His being formed in us? 

That is what has led us to 1 Corinthians chapter 1.

Before we dive in head first however, I want to circle back for a moment to compare a passage in John with a passage we will eventually arrive at in our trek into 1 Corinthians.

In John 16:1,

“(1) These things I have spoken to you in order to clear stumbling-blocks out of your path.  (2)  You will be excluded from the synagogues; nay more, the time is coming when any one who has murdered one of you will suppose he is offering service to God.  (3)  And they will do these things because they have failed to recognize the Father and to discover Who I am.  (4)  But I have spoken these things to you in order that when the time for their accomplishment comes you may remember them, and may recollect that I told you. I did not, however, tell you all this at first, because I was still with you. (5) But now I am returning to Him Who sent Me; and not one of you asks Me where I am going.  (6)  But grief has filled your hearts because I have said all this to you. 

(7)  “Yet it is the truth that I am telling you–it is to your advantage that I go away. For unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you.”

This is something that you and I don’t necessarily walk aware of because we were birthed into the Christian walk within this reality.

The Holy Spirit has already been sent. We were birthed in this reality. We were never walking around with Jesus physically. So we never experienced the transition from the physical person of Jesus to the invisible presence of the Holy Spirit. This is all we’ve ever known. 

We need to understand that in our the Christian walk, we’re often taught a lot about the Lord Jesus. We’re also taught a lot about the Father. This is very, very good. However, it leaves us with so little ever taught about the precious Holy Spirit Who is literally the only part of the Godhead Who is immediately with us now. 

That being true, it becomes clear how very important it is that we learn how to interact in this relationship we have with the Holy Spirit. Jesus told us that not only the Spirit Himself, but also implied is our inter-relationship with Him is very much to our advantage. He said, “Because if I don’t go away, I will not send the Holy Spirit. But if I go, the Father and I will send the Spirit of God to you. It’s to your advantage that He be here.” [paraphrased]

We know that at least one reason for this is because there are many things that, if Jesus were here walking around with us, we would not see with any more clarity than did His disciples. 

Jesus essentially called the disciples on the carpet and said, “I say things and you have no idea what I’m talking about.” We saw an example of this in John chapter 14, which was just a day or two before Jesus was crucified.

His disciples were still asking goofy questions about things they should have already known. It isn’t like this is was the first time they’d heard it. If we were to back up John’s gospel account to chapters 6-8, we see that Jesus told them about how He and the Father were one. To see one was to see the other. Yet in the upper room, when they’re taking communion just before He goes to the Garden of Gethsemane, He has Philip saying, “Show us the Father and that will be enough for us.”

Jesus was probably thinking… really? So He replies, “Have I been with you this whole time, Philip and you’ve not known Me? I’ve told you before. If you’ve seen Me, you’ve already seen the Father. So how could you be asking Me this question?”

So obviously Jesus walking among them was not enough to convey what was necessary. He’s telling you and I the same thing.

It wasn’t just for the advantage of the disciples, but for EVERYONE’s advantage that Jesus physically went away, because Jesus actually physically being here quite literally would serve as a hindrance to our understanding and trust.

This is largely, though not necessarily only, because we’re so caught up in the flesh that we’re not really hearing. So very little of what Jesus would say would get transferred into our hearts.

We would not be communing with the truth but, as it were, with the flesh. We would be attempting to just communicate with a human being on a human level and thus, fail entirely to truly see Him and know Him.

It was and is to all of our advantage that He left. 

Of course Jesus was talking about communion with the Father, THROUGH coming to know the Son relationally. So Jesus was telling them that His physical body, which was so necessary for the purposes of redemption – THAT SAME BODY now would serve to be a hindrance. 

Jesus said He needed to leave and send the Spirit of God

So the only way we’re going to be able to communicate with God, the only way that we’re going to be able to see and understand Who Jesus is, will be by the person and aid of the Holy Spirit. Otherwise we’re not going to get it at all!

Later on in this same chapter, chapter 16, He says, 

“(12) I have much more to say to you, but you are unable at present to bear the burden of it.  (13)  But when He has come–the Spirit of Truth–He will guide you into all the truth. For He will not speak as Himself originating what He says, but all that He hears He will speak, and He will make known the future to you.  (14)  He will glorify me, because He will take of what is mine and will make it known to you.  (15)  Everything that the Father has is mine; that is why I said that the Spirit of Truth takes of what is mine and will make it known to you.” – John 16:12-15

So there are things you can’t handle right now. I’d love to tell you, but I can’t get it through your brains. You’re just not able… you’re just not there. 

BUT… but, but, but He always goes back to the Holy Spirit

BUT “when I leave, I’m going to send the Holy Spirit and when the spirit comes, then you’re going to understand things that you could never have understand when I was physically here.” [paraphrased]

All of this has led us to where we are here in 1 Corinthians and while we are going to begin in chapter 1 verse 1, I want to connect what we just read with where we will eventually arrive here in Corinthians and that is in 1 Corinthians 3:1-3,

“(1) And as for myself, brethren, I found it impossible to speak to you as spiritual men. It had to be as to worldlings–mere babes in Christ.  (2)  I fed you with milk and not with solid food, since for this you were not yet strong enough. And even now you are not strong enough:  (3)  you are still unspiritual. 

For so long as jealousy and strife continue among you, can it be denied that you are unspiritual and are living and acting like mere men of the world?”

So even as born again people we can be SO carnal, SO earthly minded that it blinds our discernment of the Spirit’s voice.

Even now, with the advantage of the person of the Holy Spirit, we can still sometimes not hear or understand what He desires to say to us. One of the reasons for this is stated in the first chapter of Corinthians and that is our partnership with Him.

It is quite impossible to have the intimacy of union with Christ – co-participation and partnership with Him if we think and act contrary to His will and ways.

So let’s go to chapter 1 verse 1…

1 Corinthians 1:1-7, “(1) Paul, called to be an Apostle of Christ Jesus through the will of God–and our brother Sosthenes:  (2)  To the Church of God in Corinth, men and women consecrated in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all in every place who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ— their Lord as well as ours.  (3)  May grace and peace be granted to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.  (4)  I thank my God continually on your behalf for the grace of God bestowed on you in Christ Jesus—  (5)  that you have been so richly blessed in Him, with readiness of speech and fulness of knowledge. (6) Thus my testimony as to the Christ has been confirmed in your experience,  (7)  so that there is no gift of God in which you consciously come short while patiently waiting for the reappearing of our Lord Jesus Christ,”

That’s a great translation there! 

Paul says that now that we’ve begun to live our lives in Christ, it is by way of experience, that we have come to realize that what Paul said in his gospel account regarding Jesus is true! 

We know it because of what’s happened in our lives by way of experience!

That’s how the message was confirmed. It’s not JUST an intellectual pursuit! 

Now, I’m not saying they didn’t do some intellectual pursuit and that’s good. We are to study to show ourselves approved. But even more importantly is the need to go from study to living. 

And so Paul says, this thing has been confirmed in you by your experience SO THAT there is no gift of God in which you can consciously come short while patiently waiting for the reappearing of our Lord Jesus Christ.” 

There’s that return of the Lord brought up, again! Which if we maintain our hope of that, we purify ourselves!

He says, 

1Cor. 1:6-7,(6) Thus my testimony as to the Christ has been confirmed in your experience,  (7)  so that there is no gift of God in which you consciously come short while patiently waiting for the reappearing of our Lord Jesus Christ,”

The word “reproach” here just means that no one will be able to assign blame to you based on your actions. 

Wow, I like that! That’s a nice promise!

Then he says

1Cor. 1:8-9, “(8) who will also keep you stedfast to the very End, so that you will be free from reproach on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.  (9)  God is ever true to His promises, and it was by Him that you were, one and all, called into fellowship with His Son Jesus Christ, our Lord.”

God is ever true to his promises. He’s not pointing to your ability. He’s pointing to His Own ability! God Himself is ever true to His promises. And it is by Him that you were one and all called in the fellowship with His son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

That is key to this whole book right there, that verse! 

The word fellowship means, “a shared experience with His son”!

So that whatever IS going on or whatever HAS gone on with Christ goes on with me!

Remember, we just got done reading that a couple of weeks ago in John 15 that Jesus told His disciples,

“I no longer call you servants because the servant doesn’t know what’s going on in this master’s household. But from this day on, I call you friends because everything the Father has told Me, I’ve conveyed it to you. And I want you to understand something, disciples, that whatever happened to Me is going to happen to you.” 

If they hated Me, they’re going to hate you. 

If they didn’t receive My word, they’re not going to receive your word either. 

If they persecuted Me, they’re going to persecute you. 

  • What’s true of Me is true of you! I’m the vine, you’re the branches!
  • However, if they loved Me, they’re going to love you too!
  • If they received My words, they will receive yours as well.

So Jesus is letting us know the relationship that we have with the vine, that it’s a shared experience. 

This verse right here is very, very important. God is ever true to his promises, and it was by Him that we all were called into the partnership of His son, the shared experience with His son. 

To understand this, we’ve got to divorce ourselves from the modern world idea of fellowship. 

Fellowship to us is to go out to eat and talk and catch up. That’s fellowship!

That is NOT what this is talking about!

This is talking about being a literal branch connected to our vine where we together are doing something, accomplishing something. It’s a joint partnership! 

It’s a shared experience with, remember again, the word koinonia means: 

a shared life, shared resources, and shared experience, those three things.

We share our life together. We share the same resources.

Jesus in John 16 said, 

“everything that I have comes from the Father. That’s why I said that the Holy Spirit, when He comes, is going to take of mine and reveal it to you so that everything I have is yours too.” [Paraphrased]

In fact, we’re going to read that here in 1 Corinthians. Paul talks to these people and says, everything is yours. Whether you’re talking about Christ or whether you’re talking about the earth or whether you’re talking about Steve or Terry or whatever, we’re members of one another and everything belongs to you!

Why? Because it all belongs to Christ and it’s a shared experience, shared resources, shared life! 

I’m telling you, if the body of Christ, if I as an individual would approach every day with the understanding that this is not just MY LIFE, but this is our life, Jesus and I’s. That’s a shared experience and not only that, but I’m part of the body. The body is only strong as its weakest link and so I’m determined to not be a weak link. 

If I really love my brother and my sister in Christ, I will be devoted to Christ. It will drive me towards devotion to Christ because of the fact that to the degree that I am not devoted to Christ, I become a casualty and a weak point in the body.

That’s why God makes so much about the fact that you can’t claim you love Him and then fail to love your brother.

Don’t you see the inconsistency? 

In the flesh, I could say, no, I really don’t see the connection. 

But to that God said, “well, then you really don’t understand that I’m the vine and your branch is in the vine. You don’t understand the connectedness of your situation in Christ.” The Bible says we are members of one another. 

We see this reality confirmed all the way through the New Testament. There’s a connectedness here. And he says that the Father God has invited us into the co-partnership with His son!

Well, that tells me, without the Holy Spirit, I’m not going to be any better at that partnership than the disciples who were scratching their head and asking, Jesus to “show us the Father right after He’d told them that if you’ve seen Me, you’ve seen the Father and they still didn’t get it. I’m no better than they are. No better at all if I didn’t have the Holy Spirit. I’ve got to have His help. I’m blind without His help!

So understanding my union with Him, understanding that literally between Jesus and I, the thing that flows between the two of us is the vine life, the sap of the Holy Spirit if you will. That’s what connects me to the vine and to the vine to the root, which is the Father.

If you go to the Menorah in the temple, remember that was the family portrait!

It was all made out of one piece of gold. Not a bunch of pieces of gold, one piece of gold!

A branch isn’t glued onto a vine, it grows out of it. It’s one with it. Well, in like manner the menorah was one piece of gold, not a collection pieces all soldered together.

The idea is that the base supported the whole thing and that represented the Father, just like the root of the Vine or the Husbandman supports the entire vine. 

Then there was the center which was a hollowed out staff out of which all the branches grew.

Well, that would represent Jesus and the branches, or the tubes that came out the side that carried the oil for the lamp, obviously represent you and I as branches in our Vine. Those six branches that came out, had hanging from them clusters of fruit and almonds! It was bearing fruit!

Then of course, you have what was flowing through it to cause the light to shine on the center staff, which represented Jesus. What was flowing through the whole Menorah was the oil, which represents the Holy Spirit!

It was a family portrait!

In the same way, if you’re going to take that analogy of the Menorah and come over here to the analogy of the vine and the branches, then the sap that flows between the vine and branches and gives life is the person of the Holy Spirit!

1Cor. 1:10-17, “(10) Now I entreat you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, to cultivate a spirit of harmony–all of you–and that there be no divisions among you, but rather a perfect union through your having one mind and one judgement.  (11)  For I have been distinctly informed, my brethren, about you by Chloe’s people, that there are dissensions among you.  (12)  What I mean is that each of you is a partisan. One man says “I belong to Paul;” another “I belong to Apollos;” a third “I belong to Peter;” a fourth “I belong to Christ.”  (13)  Is the Christ in fragments? Is it Paul who was crucified on your behalf? Or were you baptized to be Paul’s adherents?  (14)  I thank God that I did not baptize any of you except Crispus and Gaius—  (15)  for fear people should say that you were baptized to be my adherents.  (16)  I did, however, baptize Stephanas‘ household also: but I do not think that I baptized any one else.  (17)  Christ did not send me to baptize, but to proclaim the Good News; and not in merely wise words–lest the Cross of Christ should be deprived of its power.”

Paul says, “I want you to cultivate a spirit of harmony. All of you and that there be no divisions among you, but rather a perfect union through your having one mind and one judgment.” Now, don’t lose sight. I know we’re only one verse away, but I already know human nature.

We’re already not thinking about what we just read. And that is the reason for all this because you’re in partnership with Jesus. If you are divided among yourselves and claim to be in partnership with Jesus, you’re deceiving yourself because God is not a temple divided against Himself.

Everybody following? There was a logical reason why Paul wrote what he wrote, when he wrote it and where he wrote it in this letter. It was a progression.

He was heading towards a point. And so he wants them to realize that we’ve been called into co-partnership with Jesus and that requires for us to harmonize, not be discordant with one another. 

He said, all of you, that there be no divisions among you, but rather a perfect union through your having one mind and one judgment. 

Now he’s not saying here that he expects them to be 100% on the same board with every single topic in the Bible. That’s not even really what he’s aiming at. He’s really talking about divisions among them and he’s going to tell them specifically what the division is in a minute.

He’s talking about being of the same mind and judgment regarding the very thing that they were dissensions about. There’s a specific thing he’s targeting.

What is that? He says, well, what I mean, so you don’t have to figure it out, do you? He says, okay, I’m going to tell you what I mean by this.

“What I mean is that each of you is a partisan. One of you, one man says, well, I belong to Paul. And another says, well, I belong to Paulus. And a third person says, well, I belong to Peter. And another fourth person says, well, I belong to Christ.”

So Paul asks, “Is Christ in fragments?” 

You see how all this points back to you’ve been called into the joint partnership with Jesus!

So if it’s true about Him, it needs to be true about you and I. 

If there’s divisions among us, but there’s no division in Christ, well, then you’ve got to be scratching your head and asking the question, are you really part of Christ?

He says, what I mean by this is each one of you is a partisan. This was not some small  isolated problem in this church and I submit to you that in the average church today that can be said as well – only worse, because the churches are SO LARGE there is no way to patrol it. Spiritual leaders like Paul stand little chance of ever even discovering the existence of division within a church of thousands of members – thus making discipleship and discipline IMPOSIBLE! That in turn makes those “churches” no church at all!

This was and IS a pervasive problem. 

Then Paul says, Christ didn’t send him to baptize, verse 17, but to proclaim the good news and not in merely wise words, lest the cross of Christ should be deprived of its power. 

Do you realize that the more… I want to be careful how I say this but Paul didn’t say you can’t use wise words. He said not merely by wise words.

Meaning, you can have a doctorate and there’s nothing wrong with having a doctorate. But if you get up and everything you say is miles above everybody’s head, then you really aren’t connecting with people. They’re not going to be able to walk out and live what you’re talking about because they can barely pronounce what you were saying.

Wise words aren’t going to really get you anywhere in this. I’m not saying that it needs to be completely devoid of wise words because the truth matters.

There are concepts in the Bible that you just have to learn some stuff to wrap your head around. That’s just the truth. But by and large, it doesn’t have to be through the use of a lot of lofty words. 

He says, he didn’t come to them with a bunch of wise words trying to display the kingdom of God or the gospel of Jesus Christ.

In other words, it’s going to be with common language, right? Because otherwise the cross of Jesus Christ would be deprived of its power. I don’t think that we really understand just how powerful that statement is. 

How you convey the truth of Jesus Christ can literally deprive the message of its power.

How you say it, how you present it. Wow. It’s a big deal, isn’t it?

1Cor. 1:18, “(18) For the Message of the Cross is foolishness to those who are on the way to perdition, but it is the power of God to those whom He is saving.”

We need to spend some time with this.

The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are on their way to perdition, but it is the power of God to those whom He is saving. 

Now, only those who have eyes to see and ears to hear are those people that are being saved. 

Those whose hearts are toward the world and their own selfish pursuits don’t possess eyes to see and ears to hear. Though the Holy Spirit does woo them and speak to them, their predisposition causes a blindness and a deafness to His advances.

They won’t listen. The world does not see Him or know Him – isn’t that what Jesus said in John? He also said that God’s word has no place in their hearts. 

In fact let’s turn there. John 8:42-47, 

“(42) If God were your Father,” said Jesus, “you would love me; for it is from God that I came and I am now here. I have not come of myself, but *He* sent me.  (43)  How is it you do not understand me when I speak? It is because you cannot bear to listen to my words.  (44)  The father whose sons you are is the devil; and you desire to do what gives him pleasure. *He* was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand firm in the truth–for there is no truth in him. Whenever he utters his lie, he utters it out of his own store; for he is a liar, and the father of lies.  (45)  But because I speak the truth, you do not believe me.  (46)  Which of *you* convicts me of sin? If I speak the truth, why do you not believe me?  (47)  He who is a child of God listens to God’s words. You do not listen to them: and why? It is because you are not God’s children.”

So Paul is saying here, that the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are on their way to destruction. That’s the people Jesus was talking to in John 8

“Why don’t you hear My truth when I am speaking truth to you? Because My word has no place in you. You don’t belong to God. There’s nothing in you that belongs to God.”

What does John 15:18-20 say? 

“(18) If the world hates you, remember that it has first had me as the fixed object of its hatred.  (19)  If you belonged to the world, the world would love its own property. But because you do not belong to the world, and I have chosen you out of the world–for that reason the world hates you.  (20)  Bear in mind what I said to you, ‘A servant is not superior to his master.’ If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you: if they have obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also.”

So that lines up perfectly what we just read that Paul wrote to the Corinthians, doesn’t it? 

There’s another two places I’m going to reference right now. 

Both are in 1st John chapter 2

1Jn. 2:3-6, “(3) And by this we may know that we know Him–if we obey His commands.  (4)  He who professes to know Him, and yet does not obey His commands, is a liar, and the truth has no place in his heart.  (5)  But whoever obeys His Message, in him love for God has in very deed reached perfection. By this we can know that we are in Him.  (6)  The man who professes to be continuing in Him is himself also bound to live as He lived.”

Then in verses 15-17 John deals with that whole thing about perdition.

1Jn. 2:15-17, “(15) Do not love the world, nor the things in the world. If any one loves the world, there is no love in his heart for the Father.  (16)  For the things in the world–the cravings of the earthly nature, the cravings of the eyes, the show and pride of life–they all come, not from the Father, but from the world.  (17)  And the world, with its cravings, is passing away, but he who does God’s will continues forever.”

Very similar word that’s used over there with Paul. Perdition or leading to destruction and the lust of it. But whoever does the will of God abides forever. 

If someone thinks the gospel is foolish, they’re not going to follow it. Right? 

So he says, For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are on their way to perdition.

Why? Because their attention isn’t on those things. Their attention is on the lust of the world, the lust of the eyes, the pride of life and all that stuff which is not of the Father, but is of the world. That’s why they’re on the road that they’re on. They don’t want to hear anything that Jesus has to say because it means I have to take my eye off what I really want to be doing.

1Cor. 1:19-31,


(20)  Where is your wise man? Where your expounder of the Law? Where your investigator of the questions of this present age? Has not God shown the world’s wisdom to be utter foolishness?  

(21)  For after the world by its wisdom–as God in His wisdom had ordained–had failed to gain the knowledge of God, God was pleased, by the apparent foolishness of the Message which we preach, to save those who accepted it.  

(22)  Seeing that Jews demand miracles, and Greeks go in search of wisdom,  (23)  while we proclaim a Christ who has been crucified–to the Jews a stumbling-block, to Gentiles foolishness,  (24)  but to those who have received the Call, whether Jews or Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.”  

“(25)  Because that which the world deems foolish in God is wiser than men’s wisdom, and that which it deems feeble in God is mightier than men’s might.  (26)  For consider, brethren, God’s call to you. Not many who are wise with merely human wisdom, not many of position and influence, not many of noble birth have been called.  (27)  But God has chosen the things which the world regards as foolish, in order to put its wise men to shame; and God has chosen the things which the world regards as destitute of influence, in order to put its powerful things to shame;  (28)  and the things which the world regards as base, and those which it sets utterly at nought–things that have no existence–God has chosen in order to reduce to nothing things that do exist;  (29)  to prevent any mortal man from boasting in the presence of God.  (30)  But you–and it is all God’s doing–are in Christ Jesus: He has become for us a wisdom which is from God, consisting of righteousness and sanctification and deliverance;  (31)  in order that it may be as Scripture says, “HE WHO BOASTS–LET HIS BOAST BE IN THE LORD.”

Paul asks, “Where’s your investigator of the questions of this present age? Has not God shown the world’s wisdom to be utter foolishness?” 

Now, he addresses several people in that verse.

He’s been very, very deliberate in his word choices. Now it misses us because we’re not living 2000 years ago in his culture. But largely he was talking about the Jewish people and the Greeks

The reason why is because these people were looking for God in a different way that He was coming. And because of the foolish way in which they pursued Him, they never found Him. They weren’t really seeking the truth. 

Anyone who honestly seeks God will find him. But there’s a lot of people who claim that they’re seeking, but they’re really not seeking, not honestly. They’re seeking the God they want to find. That’s what they’re seeking. But they’re not seeking God for Who He really is.

Meaning in other words, “God, I want to know You regardless of Who You are. Even if I don’t like what I find, I want to know Who You are. I don’t want to be in the dark anymore. I want to know Who You are. Even if what I see offends me, I want to know You.”

That person’s prayer will be answered. But the person who’s only looking for a God that meets their criteria, that’s all they’re going to find. 

Now he says in verse 21, he says, that the world by its own wisdom failed to gain the knowledge of God, and so God was pleased by the foolishness of the message that we preach to save those who will accept it.

But, but why did He do this? 

He says, after the world by its own wisdom had failed to gain the knowledge of God. They failed.

Now, what was going on? 

Well, what does the Bible tell us in Acts chapter 20?

That the nations exist where they do and how long they do for a God ordained purpose. 

What is the purpose? Why did God give and predetermined each continent and the people that would be on it and the nation that would be present and the rulers that would be over it for the time that it was there? Why?

So the people might seek after Him so as to find Him. That’s what Paul told us!

He says, God has already predetermined the boundaries of our habitation and where men would live and how long nations endure on the earth in their given locations God gave them for a certain amount of time and this is what he expected them to do.

Seek after Him so as to find Him. 

That’s why He gave them that land. 

We don’t have to wonder, we know why God gave the land. 

Why do the Russians have the land they have? God gave to them for a period of time that they might seek after God and find Him. Are they doing that?

Some are, some aren’t. 

Why did He give China the land they did and the rulership they do and the geographical location they have? That they might seek after God and find Him!

Why in the Old Testament did God give the Ammonites and the Canaanites and the Jebusites the land of Canaan before He brought in Israel and wiped them all out? 

Why did they have that land before Israel showed up? That they might seek God and find Him!

You remember God told Abram, “your children’s children are going to be in bondage to Egypt. And the reason why they’re going to be in bondage to Egypt is because the land I’m going to give them, the land that I’ve shown you, that you’ve walked through, in this land of Canaan, the Ammonites have not yet filled up their judgment yet. They need 400 more years.” 400 more years for what? To seek God!

God predetermined. They’ve got 400 more years to seek Me. I’m not going to cut their time short! Everyone focuses on the taking of the land rather than the giving of it! The judgment of God rather than the mercy and patience He gives!

God already knew they’re were not going to seek Him. They were not even interested in Him, but in His justice, He still giving them that time. And when they fail, He took back HIS land and gave it to the Jews.

Why? To seek God and find Him. Did the Jews seek Him?  A little, but not near consistently enough. 

What happened? He kicked them out of the land too, didn’t He? 

Didn’t we see that? 

We know that when Israel failed to honor God and seek God, He kicked them out of the land. 

Now, here in America, we’ve been here in this nation for 250 some odd plus years, and we are on a railroad train at high speed away from God. 

How long is God going to allow that? As long as he predetermined! That could be another thousand years. It could be till tomorrow. I don’t know. But when the time is up, it’s up- Period! And all your voting and all your prayers are not going to change that because it’s predetermined!

I didn’t say it’s determined based on how you pray. He said it’s predetermined. HE ALONE is the one that determined it!

So nothing’s going to change it. 

So here He says, “after the world by its wisdom had failed to gain the knowledge of God, God was pleased by the apparent foolishness of the message we preach to save anyone who will accept it.”

So what did God do? He gave people the opportunity to seek after Him and when they time after time after time after time after time, they only saw the God they wanted to find and never found God Himself, God determined that now I’m going to give them the message of the gospel, the good news of the message of redemption through Christ. It’s foolishness to those people who aren’t seeking for God, but whoever will accept it can be saved. 

Whoever! No matter where you live or what’s going on, if you’ll accept it, you can be saved.

People fail to obtain the knowledge of God, which indicates that this was the purpose of man and one which mankind is predisposed to until their intellect and their pride directs them elsewhere. 

It honestly doesn’t matter where you go on the planet, people at the beginning of a culture all seek for God in some way or another because they’re aware of God until they can convince themselves that He doesn’t exist or He doesn’t play a vital role. They all start off with the initial belief that He’s there and that it matters that He’s there!

That’s been historically true throughout the world. And it says, but they failed to find him. 

Now in verse 22, it says, Jews demand miracles.

So now we know what groups he’s particularly talking about. This is how they’ve sought for God. Jews demand miracles. They’re not just looking for it. They demand it. 

“God, if you don’t do the parlor trick, I won’t believe.”

God’s like, oh, I’m sorry. I’m not doing any more parlor tricks. You missed it.

I mean, even Jesus, when He was here, went to an area and he worked miracles, gave the message and then He left. People sometimes followed Him and said, Hey, I want you to work another miracle. To which He replied, no, I’m sorry. I did a miracle for you yesterday and you didn’t believe.

So I’m not going to do another one. In fact, He eventually got to the point where He just told them that a wicked and a perverse generation demands a sign. And no sign will be given it!

But the Jews are demanding a miracle and the Greeks search after wisdom while we are proclaiming Christ

The Jews are looking over here and the Greeks are over here looking over there. And what we’re doing is we’re preaching Jesus and neither one are seeing us at all because they’re looking in the wrong place. 

He says they’re demanding miracles and they’re looking for man-made wisdom, man-ordained intelligence, while we proclaim Christ Who has been crucified.

What’s their response?

To the Jews, this is a stumbling block.

To the Gentiles, it’s foolishness! 

BUT to those who have received the call whether Jews or Greeks Jesus Christ is both the power of God and the wisdom of God. Jesus becomes both of those who will believe and accept it.

Now as an intro into next week let’s look at the first few verses of chapter 2.

1Cor. 2:1-5, “(1) And as for myself, brethren, when I came to you, it was not with surpassing power of eloquence or earthly wisdom that I came, announcing to you that which God had commanded me to bear witness to.  (2)  For I determined to be utterly ignorant, when among you, of everything except of Jesus Christ, and of Him as having been crucified.  (3)  And so far as I myself was concerned, I came to you in conscious feebleness and in fear and in deep anxiety.  (4)  And my language and the Message that I proclaimed were not adorned with persuasive words of earthly wisdom, but depended upon truths which the Spirit taught and mightily carried home;  (5)  so that your trust might rest not on the wisdom of man but on the power of God.”

Paul didn’t come to them trying to convince them by being eloquent and having great, iIllustrations and all of that. He just came and spoke out of whatever God gave Him at the moment.

Paul probably did not have notes when he was teaching he probably just went up there and just said whatever the Spirit of God put on his heart.

He says that his language and the message that he proclaimed were not adorned with persuasive words of earthly wisdom, but instead depended entirely upon truths which the Spirit taught and mightily carried home. He did this so that the resulting trust would be in God and not in man.

Now as we continue our trek here in Corinthians, our whole goal is to better understand  our partnership with Christ and become like Him. This can only be done when the Jesus we see is the Jesus the Spirit reveals. 

We are supposed to be people who follow after Him, but we can only follow Him to the degree that we see Him. This passage here tells us the only person Who really knows God is the Spirit of God. It also tells us that you have not received the spirit of the world, but you have received the Spirit of God so that you might know Him! 

So we’re gonna spend some time with that next time we come together!


Hi my name is Mark and though I am opposed to titles, I am currently the only Pastor (shepherd/elder) serving our assembly right now.

I have been Pastoring in one capacity or another for nearly 30 years now, though never quite like I am today.

Early in 2009 the Lord revealed to me that the way we had structured our assembly (church) was not scriptural in that it was out of sync with what Paul modeled for us in the New Testament. In truth, I (like many pastors I am sure) never even gave this fundamental issue of church structure the first thought. I had always assumed that church structure was largely the same everywhere and had been so from the beginning. While I knew Paul had some very stringent things to say about the local assembly of believers, the point of our gatherings together and who may or may not lead, I never even considered studying these issues but assumed we were all pretty much doing it in numbers right?! Boy, I couldn't have been more wrong!

So needless to say, my discovery that we had been doing it wrong for nearly two decades was a bit of a shock to me! Now, this "revelation" did not come about all at once but over the course of a few weeks. We were a traditional single pastor led congregation. It was a top-bottom model of ministry which is in part biblical, but not in the form of a monarchy.

The needed change did not come into focus until following 9 very intense months of study and discussions with those who were leaders in our church at the time.

We now understand and believe that the Bible teaches co-leadership with equal authority in each local assembly. Having multiple shepherds with God's heart and equal authority protects both Shepherds and sheep. Equal accountability keeps authority and doctrine in check. Multiple shepherds also provide teaching with various styles and giftings with leadership skills which are both different and complementary.

For a while we had two co-pastors (elders) (myself and one other man) who led the church with equal authority, but different giftings. We both taught in our own ways and styles, and our leadership skills were quite different, but complimentary. We were in complete submission to each other and worked side-by-side in the labor of shepherding the flock.

Our other Pastor has since moved on to other ministry which has left us with just myself. While we currently only have one Pastor/Elder, it is our desire that God, in His faithfulness and timing, may bring us more as we grow in maturity and even in numbers.

As to my home, I have been married since 1995 to my wonderful wife Terissa Woodson who is my closest friend and most trusted ally.

As far as my education goes, I grew up in a Christian home, but questioned everything I was ever taught.

I graduated from Bible college in 1990 and continued to question everything I was ever taught (I do not mention my college in order to avoid being labeled).

Perhaps my greatest preparation for ministry has been life and ministry itself. To quote an author I have come to enjoy namely Fredrick Buechner in his writing entitled, Now and Then, "If God speaks to us at all other than through such official channels as the Bible and the church, then I think that He speaks to us largely through what happens to us...if we keep our hearts open as well as our ears, if we listen with patience and hope, if we remember at all deeply and honestly, then I think we come to recognize beyond all doubt, that, however faintly we may hear Him, He is indeed speaking to us, and that, however little we may understand of it, His word to each of us is both recoverable and precious beyond telling." ~ Fredrick Buechner

Well that is about all there is of interest to tell you about me.

I hope our ministry here is a blessing to you and your family. I also hope that it is only a supplement to a local church where you are committed to other believers in a community of grace.

~God Bless!